I used to thrive off of chaos, partly because I thought a calm life was boring and partly because my anxiety was more out of control than anyone would care to admit.
I loved having a brain that was always one step ahead of itself. I took delight in the fact that I was always the one to create the plans, and make everyone follow them to a T.
People who didn’t worry about minute details made me even more anxious, and I would tell them what they should be stressed about. Needless to say, the “go with the flow” lifestyle is not for me.
Over time, however, my chaotic way of life became toxic and I had to make changes in order to function healthily.
Yes, some circumstances are beyond my control but I found that a lot of the time, I was making things more chaotic than they needed to be. I was constantly being told that I was making “mountains out of molehills” and that I would “worry myself sick.” I quickly found myself swimming through a sea of chaos and barely staying afloat in my day-to-day life.
If this sounds familiar to you, check out the following tips on how to center yourself in our hectic world:
1. Know your boundaries, and don’t be afraid to say no.
This concept was the hardest for me to learn. I’m a people pleaser and hate letting others down. I learned, however, that in order to be the best version of myself and to help others the best that I can, it’s essential for me to take care of myself first.
If I know I need a night to introvert, I have no problem canceling dinner plans with a friend. If an event or party is going to make me uncomfortably anxious, I probably won’t go. Some may see this as being selfish or that I don’t care about my community, but I know what I need to do to keep myself healthy and I have no problem doing so.
Besides, who wants to have a dinner date with a grumpy friend or go to an event with someone who is so distressed? Putting yourself first is the best thing you can do to help yourself, and others.
2. Divert from your typical schedule.
It makes sense that one way to calm down a chaotic life is to set-up a strict routine. However, I have found that if something in my regimented schedule changes, I get completely thrown off and have a hard time dealing with change. I have attempted to try to move around my schedule a little bit to become more adaptable when circumstances change.
It takes practice, but it’s worth it. I have gotten better at being spontaneous since I have forced myself to embrace changes that are inevitable in day-to-day life.
3. Take one day at a time.
For a girl with an anxious brain, taking one day at a time is extremely hard. I am constantly thinking about the big picture and have a hard time focusing on the here and now.
Honestly, though, all we are promised is this moment. Because of that, it’s important to soak in the beauty of the moment and not worry about something that may never happen.
My anxiety hates me for saying this, but it is so freeing to live in the present. It took years of therapy and discipline, but I have learned to re-direct my anxiety when it takes me to an unhealthy place. I am not suggesting that we should not think ahead and make and work toward goals, but when we spend so much time looking ahead and not making use of our present circumstances, we miss out.
Navigating life is hard, and I would argue that it is even more difficult for millennials. Our twenties are almost like a second puberty: we have to grow into who we really are and deal with embarrassment, mistakes, and shame along the way.
There’s no how-to guide for surviving our twenties, or specific timeline that we can follow. Each of us has to walk our own journey and lean on our own experiences, and that of others, to make it through. We can’t stop the chaos of the world as a whole, but we can change how we let it affect us.